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“The Remedy for Love” — A Short Story by Somtoochukwu Benedict Ezioha.

He was an average, inconspicuous man. He had a bald head with small beady eyes and thick, long lashes. He had a long aquiline nose on which rested very expensive gold rimmed spectacles. He was wearing a black frock with a white collar. He was a priest! It was unbelievable. I never would have come here if I knew that I would meet a priest.
I had come here thinking that I would meet a real doctor, but instead it seems I came for a confession. Why would a priest claim to be a love doctor? You see, I had this terrible sickness that needed a cure. I’d tried so many things in hopes that I would be all right. But each remedy was fake, each was a trick. My sickness persisted.
“Good afternoon, young man,“ he said, with a wide smile that stretched the length of his tranquil face. “How may I be of use to you?”
Without knowing why, I became rude to him. Perhaps, because I was still surprised to see a priest posing as a love doctor. I answered, “You tell me. The advert said you had the remedy to cure the problem of love.”
“Indeed, I do. But people come to me for different reasons, so permit me to ask: have you come here seeking for the remedy for love, or is there something else that you came for?”
The way he was so calm, so collected in asking and answering questions rankled me. But since he was playing a game of being calm, I decided to play it too. Two people can play the game as well as one.
“I seek the remedy for love,” I replied, and to further disrupt his composure, I asked, “How much does it cost?”
He just let out a good-natured guffaw; it was so genuine and innocent that I soon joined him in laughing. He was transformed when he laughed, he seemed ethereal, as if he was laughing with someone who wasn’t in the room with us.
After the bout of laughter, he stood up, went to the refrigerator, and as was about to open it, asked me:
“What would you take? But I must ask for your forgiveness, I have a few variety of drinks available now. I am yet to restock.”
He was something else entirely. He was acting as if I hadn’t asked him a question about money. How am I even sure that this man, this charlatan attired in priestly garments was capable of what he says he could do?
Instead I said, “Just give me a glass of water.”
“Ah, water! The very prerequisite for biological life.“ He brought two glasses and a bottle of water, poured out the pristine, life-giving liquid. One for him and one for him. Sitting down, he asked, “Why would you think that I want money? Love doesn’t concern itself with money.”
“Interesting,” was my reply.
“So, why do you seek the remedy?”
“I would prefer not to say.”
“Young—What is your name?”
He was so quick to change topics and lines of conversation that I was left confused. “Michael is my name. Michael Nnamani.”
“Alright Michael, I am Father Peter Anayo. But please call me Peter. No need for titles between us.”
“Noted,” I replied, a tad icily. He was wasting my time with his unnecessary rigmarole.
“Since we are now on first name basis, I want you to know that no doctor can treat an unknown affliction. No matter how good he is. So, please, can you tell me why you seek the remedy?”
Maybe it was the way he was almost pleading with me, maybe it was the water, maybe it was even my emotions playing tricks on me, whatever it was, I found myself opening up to him, opening up to anyone after that terrible evening. An evening that made me hate myself and love.
“I seek the remedy because I still love my ex-girlfriend.”
“And why is that a wrong thing?”
“For crying out loud, she’s my ex! She’s a lying, conniving bitch, with whom I unfortunately fell in love with. Now I have to get out before I kill myself.”
“I see. May I ask what she did to you?”
“It’s a long story.”
“I don’t have enough people waiting for me today. So I have all the time in the world.”
“But I don’t,” I said.
“All right then. Cut to the chase. What exactly did she do to you?”
It was just too painful, too raw—the memories hit me with the force of a bullet. I contorted my face in anguish. He just sat opposite me, his dark brown eyes, boring through me and piercing my soul. Strangely, I felt he could see the memories inside my head. He also seemed to understand. That gave me the courage to tell him everything.
“We had been together for five months, and within those months, was the perfect embodiment of what I wanted in a woman. She was calm, suave, and very honest; or so I thought. On that fateful day, I had planned to propose to her. I told most of my friends and hers too. So, I took her to the restaurant where everyone was. She was surprised and asked me why everyone was here. In response, I brought out the ring and proposed to her.”
He cut me short by saying, “That is a very wonderful thing.”
“You won’t think so if you hear what happened next.”
“By all means, let me hear it.”
“Now, as I knelt before her and everyone else—with her gushing and crying her fake tears—my girlfriend before her came out among the throng of people inside the restaurant. Somehow, she had found out that I planned to propose and was incensed. She rained abuses on the both of us and accused Ada—that’s my ex’s name—of breaking their contract. I was very confused and asked Ada to explain what was going on. But she was silent. The other girl now made me realize that the what she had planned with Ada was to make me fall in love with her (Ada) and then take as much of my money as she could before leaving me heartbroken.”
“Interesting. And why did you and the other girl break up?” he asked.
“She was cheating on me. She was also dating a much older man, her ‘sugar daddy’. I had to break up with her, but she was furious when I did so, saying that I had humiliated her and promising revenge.”
“Ah! I see. So, which do you think was her revenge? Setting up with Ada or publicly humiliating you?”
“Both of them of course. Ada never loved me!” I was shouting with barely restrained anger.”
“And how do you know that? Did she explain herself?”
“I wanted her to tell me something that would make sense of the whole fracas. But she just stood there crying and telling me that she was sorry.”
“I’m sure she is indeed sorry,” he opined.
“Do you derive some joy in making me unnecessarily angry?” I glared at him as I threw the question at him.
As usual, he was the perfect symbol of tranquility. He just said, “She wronged you. It’s only natural to feel sorry for hurting someone.”
“That is hard to believe considering what I see around the world.”
“Did she ask for your forgiveness?”
“Yes, she made an act of pleading and asking for a forgiveness she did not deserve.”
“If she, who wronged you didn’t deserve your forgiveness, then who does?”
“I’m not sure you’re getting the picture,” I said, “She intentionally planned to hurt me. How do I forgive her?”
“It’s simple,” he replied, “Just get over the hurt and humiliation. Throw them into the big ocean of forgetfulness and let them go. Then see her without the hurts she caused you.”
“That is one wild idea.”
“All ideas are wild at some point in time.”
“Even if what you say is possible, I can’t go back to her. And I still love her.”
“Who says you can’t do that?”
“Think about it, what would the people who were that day say? And what will I tell them?”
“Since I don’t read minds, I can’t tell you what they will say, but I can tell you what you can tell them. Just tell them that you forgave her.”
“Hmph! If only it’s that easy,” I noted.
“It’s not.”
“Then why are you telling me to do it?”
“Because it’s possible.”
“What is the remedy you so promised?”
“Oh! The only remedy to love is Love.”
“I don’t get you.” Clearly, this man had some sort of mental illness.
“What is love to you?”
“Are you seriously asking me that question?”
“Since you’re an authority, you tell me.”
“No one really is an authority on Love. But I’ll tell you the little I know.” He then brought out his Bible. He meticulously flipped through the pages, as if he was afraid to hurt the book. Finding what he was looking for, he went on, “The Book of 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13 from verse four to eight says: ‘Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal.’
“The Bible says it all,” he finally concluded.
“And how does this help me?”
“The above passage clearly mentions two very important attributes of love, which are that Love keeps no record of wrongs and that Love is eternal. This means that you clearly have to forgive her and let go of the pain. It also says that Love is eternal which means that Love never dies; she still loves you.”
“Do you believe in God, Michael?” He queried.
“I’m not sure,” I answered.
“That is a good position. Doubt often leads us to the Truth.”
“I’m listening.”
“As I said, I don’t have all the knowledge, but what I do is that I lead you to the answers you seek. Only you can find them.”
In the spacious air-conditioned office, I was sweating. His words had a nice ring to them. In my heart, I knew that he was right. But how could I just let go? How could I just act as if nothing happened?
Then he let out the bombshell. “Call her to come here. If she’s not busy?”
“I’m sorry?”
“I asked you to call her and tell her to come here.”
“Why would I do such a thing?”
“You’ll see. Just trust me.”
Trust him? As I looked at him, he was smiling at me. I then called Ada. Crisply, I asked her to come to the office I was. She was so happy to hear my voice that she didn’t even notice the tone of my voice. Thirty minutes later, she arrived.
Immediately she came in, she saw me and froze. Her face was a mask of shame and agony. Despite myself, my heart went out to her. Father Peter noticed the tense atmosphere and stood up, went to her and guided her to the seat beside mine. He then went back and sat opposite us.
“Ada,” he began, “Michael had told me what happened between the both of you. He also said that you’ve is a asking for forgiveness. Is that correct?”
With a shaky voice, she replied, “Yes, Father.”
“All right then. But there’s something I need to know, in fact, we need to know. That is, why did you hurt the man who loves you?”
At the mention of the word ‘loves’, my hands tightened on the arm of the chair and I heard her sharp intake of breath.
“Believe me when I say this Father, I never intended to hurt him. Well, not the way it seems. One day, about seven months ago, Chidimma approached me and told me that a boy had hurt her. That after all she did for the guy, he later turned on her and stabbed her in the back. She begged me to get her revenge for her. We were very close and I loved her like a sister so I agreed to do what she requested.”
“And what she asked of you was to make him fall for you and then break his heart?” the venerable gentleman asked. When she nodded, he added, “That was some risk you took.”
“Yes, I took a risk. And I agreed to do it because of what I had passed through at the hands of men, alongside my friends.”
Hearing her spout such rubbish filled me rage. I cut in, “I wasn’t the one who hurt you or your friends. As a matter of fact, the reverse was the case.”
“I am truly sorry Michael. But I am saying the truth when I say that I fell in love with you. I came into your life wanting to cause you pain but you showed me that you were different from other men. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I want to come back to you, if you will have me back.” She finished in tears.
Father Peter clapped his hands in joy. “There you have it, Michael. The ball is now in your court. Will you hold on to the hurt and the pain and the humiliation or will you relinquish them and embrace the person you love?”
As he finished his question, I felt my heart constricting in agony. There was no worse pain than this. None at all. Then, slowly but steadily, I let out a deep breath. As I did that, I felt myself unburdened. The pain was ebbing away. After two minutes of silence, I said to Ada:
“Ada, I forgive you. And yes, I will have you back.”
She cried the more, but this time, with joy. “Tha-thank you… I promise never to hurt you ever again.”
“I believe you,” I replied.
“This is really an auspicious moment. And I’m happy to part of it,” Father Peter said.
Then I surprised everyone in the room, myself most especially. I said to Peter, “Father, with your permission, I would like to do something I believe was cut short before.”
In his own way, he seemed to read my mind and smiled knowingly. I got up from my chair, knelt before Ada, and said, “Ada, in you I found love, in you I found hope, in you I found bliss. We are not perfect but we’re perfect for each other. Let’s make this work. So, I ask you Ada Cynthia Obiora, will you be my wife, for now and forever?”
She was so shocked that she literally was dumbfounded. She was gasping for breath. I just smiled at her and she said the yes breathlessly. I slipped the ring on her finger and hugged her so tightly as if she was the very essence of my being. After I sat down, Father Peter prayed for us, admonishing us to always look out for each other.
Then it was time to leave. “Father, I don’t know how to thank you enough. You really do know the remedy for love. It is indeed Love; loving rightly is the remedy. Thanks very much.”
He smiled and replied, “That will be twenty thousand naira.”
At my shocked look, he laughed and said, “I was just joking my dear. Take care of yourselves.”
We stepped out of his office into the city, into our future. Together.

Read Also==>“Reaching for the Stars” — A Short Story by Somtoochukwu Benedict Ezioha.

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